COL Robert R. Arnau was a VHPA member who died after his tour in Vietnam on 02/24/2015 at the age of 81.7
Riverside, CA
Flight Class 57
Date of Birth 06/03/1933
Served in the U.S. Air Force
Served in Vietnam with 21 SOS in 69-70
This information was provided by Jim Burns

More detail on this person: Colonel Robert (Bob) Arnau sadly passed away on February 24, 2015 at Riverside Community Hospital. He was 81.

Colonel Arnau was the former Riverside County General Services Agency Director who oversaw the construction of numerous buildings that are still in use today. His direction helped reshape downtown Riverside.

Bob Arnau was born on June 3, 1933 in Hollywood, Florida to Julian and Leona Arnau. He was his high school class president and became the first person in his family to attend college, earning a full scholarship to the University of Miami (Fla). He graduated from the "U" with a Civil Engineering degree in 1955. After completing ROTC, he entered the US Air Force and earned his pilot wings in 1956 at Webb Air Force Base, Texas. Bob married Mary Angela Mascaro in 1963 in Lubbock, Texas and they spent the next 52 years traveling the world together, very much in love.

Colonel Arnau served 29 years in the Air Force as a pilot, engineer and commander. He was a highly decorated Vietnam Veteran helicopter pilot, receiving multiple medals of valor earned in combat, including three distinguished flying crosses. Colonel Arnau honorably retired from the Air Force at March Air Force Base in 1984 and went to work for Riverside County as the Director of the General Services Agency. During his ten year service, he supervised the construction of the Riverside Hall of Justice, the Robert Presley Detention Facility, the Health and Welfare Administrative Center, the Victor Miceli Law Library addition, multiple sheriff stations and numerous other buildings. He retired from Riverside County in 1993 and taught at the UC Riverside Adult Extension Program for several years.

Bob enjoyed his retirement years traveling with Mary, continuing his association with numerous organizations such as the Order of Daedalians and the Military Officers Association and proudly enjoying his very close family and many, many friends.

Colonel Arnau is survived by his wife Mary; his two sons Robert and John; his daughter Michelle; and his two grandchildren Olivia and Jake.

Memorial services will be held at 11am on Thursday, March 12th at the Riverside National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, his family is requesting donations be made to the City of Hope Cancer Center (1500 E. Duarte Rd, Duarte, CA).

Bob was a hero, a patriot, a loving husband, father and poppop. He was a true officer and a gentleman. He will be dearly missed.

This one strikes particularly hard to me. I flew several missions with, then, Maj. Arnau, in 69-70 while with the 21st SOS. He was my pilot and aircraft commander on one particular mission on 18 Nov. 1969 (a "Prairie Fire" emergency extraction) that earned him, our co-pilot, Jerry Kibby, flight engineer/gunner Charles Hall and myself as a flight engineer/gunner the Distinguish Flying Cross.

From: Jim Burns ~A Shared Memory~ The following thoughts are from a journal entry that Col. Arnau wrote, in 1970, while on his way home from Thailand at the end of his tour with the 21st SOS at Nakhon Phanom, Thailand. He carried it around with him in his attaché case for the next 19 years of his military career. None of his family had ever seen it until it was discovered after his death. Shared courtesy of the Arnau family, his wife, daughter, sons and grandchildren, Mary, Michelle, Rob, John, Olivia & Jake

Thoughts on Returning from War

By Colonel Robert R. Arnau (Major Arnau at time of writing)


I have finished fighting my first war. God knows I hope it is also my last. Unfortunately, the war continues at full pitch, unabated. There is no avoiding the cliché - war is indeed hell! I find my capability as a writer totally inadequate to describe the personal emotions of one involved. Needless to say they are deep, strong, sometimes nearly overwhelming. The constant presence of fear is a terrible thing, yet it is there every day in varying degrees for each man participating. For some, the fear is continually enormous. For others it is undulating, sometimes great, sometimes nearly absent. It is axiomatic that bravery acknowledges the presence of fear. Without the latter, the former cannot exist. Consequently, bravery must be judged in terms of the fear overcome. A routine act by one may well be heroic by another. The threshold of fear, that point where fear becomes truly significant, varies greatly between individuals. Strangely, this threshold sometimes appears to vary within the individual. One day he is fearless - the next obsessed with the presence of danger.

The true test of bravery then is the completion of the mission in the presence of fear. This I have seen daily, continually in my war. Men accomplishing assigned tasks in the presence of gut rendering fear. What is this fear? Of injury? No. It is a fear of cessation of existence. The fear of not returning to one's family. The fear of not being permitted to fulfill one's normal lifespan. This is an awesome thing yet surely is as old as war itself.

In my peculiar war, where one is allotted a specified time span of duty, the fear seems to grow as one nears the goal of a completed tour.

This information was last updated 05/18/2016

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Date posted on this site: 06/15/2024

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